May 19, 2014
Health Insights Articles
Over the years that I’ve been practicing
acupuncture, I have often been asked whether it can treat certain health
conditions. While the short answer is almost invariably “yes,” the
true answer is that acupuncture does not treat the condition, but rather it
treats the person.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical
procedures in the world, originating in China more than 2,000 years
ago. A treatment involves the placement of hair-thin needles into
the skin to stimulate and encourage the body’s own healing powers. Treatments
are virtually painless and are entirely individualized, so two people with the
same complaint may receive quite different treatments.
The idea that the illness cannot be separated
from the person is fundamental to Chinese Medicine. I have found the
Chinese conception of Qi and health – that all the systems of the body are
intricately connected to each other; that the body and mind and spirit are not
separate; that good health is a journey, not a destination – can have profound
effects on patients’ lives.
An initial acupuncture treatment starts with a
patient’s history in which we talk about health and lifestyle
issues. I observe the patient's tongue and pulse, and ask questions
that may seem unrelated to the primary reason for treatment, but help to
illuminate underlying patterns of imbalance. Acupuncture naturally
places a strong emphasis on prevention, treating symptoms before they become
more serious, and re-balancing the body so that conditions can be corrected
even before they manifest. Acupuncture may increase blood flow and cause
the body to release endorphins, but is perhaps more easily understood through
natural images. The energies of the body are like a river – when
healthy, they are flowing with life. When stagnant, they can be like a swamp
and can easily decay.
The World Health Organization acknowledges many
conditions that acupuncture can treat, including pain, digestive problems,
fatigue, immune disorders, infertility, headaches and migraines. I also
find acupuncture to be very helpful for psychological and emotional conditions,
such as depression, anxiety, grief, and insomnia.
It is essential that these different conditions
be understood and treated only in relation to the whole person. So,
if I were asked, “Can acupuncture treat migraines?” or “Can you help me sleep
better?” I would reply, "Yes, but first I have a lot of questions."
Matthew is available Tuesdays and Thursdays at Southampton
Hospital’s Ed & Phyllis Davis Wellness Institute, 240 Meeting House Lane,
Southampton. For appointments, please
call (631) 726-8800.
Matthew Greenberg, L.Ac is a
licensed Acupuncturist with a B.A. from Tufts University and a Master of Science
from the Swedish Institute in New York City. He has also studied in
Beijing, China. Chinese Medicine considers illness as a message to the
body to make a change, and an acupuncture needle communicates directly with the
body, indicating that there is an imbalance and inviting that change.
Matthew believes that a fundamental principle of acupuncture is to treat the
whole person – body, mind, and spirit – and to relieve the root cause of
disease, not just the symptoms.